• Spike

Lisbon - Portugal

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

I visited Lisbon for a long weekend with Enzo.

Enzo is not quite the explorer compared to myself, so some compromises had to be made. Still, I managed to drag him around several sights before he finally found it too much and wanted to head to a beach to sunbathe.

Lisbon is a beautiful city, but I suggest also taking time to visit the neighbouring town of Sintra.

There's a lot to see and do in Lisbon, and a weekend wasn't enough time to see everything, especially if you include Sintra. Sintra itself needs a day or two if you want to see everything there.

Lisbon is made up of quite steep hills, so in the hot climate it can be quite exhausting walking around the city. There are various options for public transport though, which I'd recommend when needing to ascend the steep hills.



Belém Tower

A tower which was used to defend the city, and later a lighthouse. It was actually built on a small island, but after the horrendous earthquake in 1755, the landscape changed so that this now sits on the shore.

The outside is beautiful, and it's also possible to explore inside which is just as beautiful.

I would suggest trying to see it at off peak times, but I imagine sunset and sunrise is quite a spectacular time to see the tower in golden light.



Monument to the Discoveries

A large monument which isn't far from the Belém Tower. It's dedicated to Henry the Navigator, who was famous for discovering the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde.

The sculpture is of a small sailing ship with Henry the Navigator at the helm. The various people behind him are other famous Portuguese explorers.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, there is actually an observation deck at the top of the monument. There's an elevator inside the monument that will take you to the top.

On the observation deck you'll get you some great views of Belém as well as the beautiful marble mosaic compass at the base of the monument.



Trams

Trams are not just a mode of transport, but also a major tourist attraction in Lisbon.

You'll see many pass through the streets, and they are certainly useful if you need to go uphill. However being a tourist attraction they are often crammed with tourists, and it's not guaranteed you'll a be able to fit inside.

I think they look cute and colourful moving around the city, but personally I can't really see the fuss about having to take a ride in one.



St George’s Castle

Overlooking Lisbon you'll see the Castelo de Sao Jorge, or St George's Castle. As castles most often are, it's a very popular tourist attraction in the city.

Built by the Romans, it's seen a lot of conflicts over the years and was restored in the 1940s to what you'll see there today.

If you're into history and want to learn about the past conflicts in Lisbon then this is the place for you.

Tickets are around €10 per person, and it takes between 1-2 hours to get around the castle.



Pink Street

Pink street is just that, a street which is pink. Officially known as Rua Nova do Carvalho, this is one of the best spots for nightlife in the city.

Originally a red light district aimed at the many sailors who visited the port, it's now aimed at tourists and locals alike.

You'll find various cocktail bars, pubs and clubs along this street.

Visit during the daytime if you want a nice photo of the street, but very little will be open here until the evening.



Time Out Market

If you're looking for somewhere to eat, the Time Out Market is your best bet. There are various stalls selling all types of food and drink, ranging from budget food to more pricey Michelin Star stalls.

Just be warned when it comes to stalls offering chips with their maincourse. This could be what we in the UK call crisps. So having a steak with crisps was a slightly strange combination for me.



Santa Justa Lift

An elevator that connects the neighbourhoods of Baixa and Bairro Alto. Built in the same style as the Eiffel Tower due to the architect being an admirer, it's now a major tourist attraction.

There's an observation deck at the top, giving some wonderful views of Lisbon.

If you'd like to take a ride in the elevator, get here early. By late morning there will be queues of tourists waiting to go up, and you will have to wait quite some time until you get to do so.








Quinta da Regaleira

Located in Sintra, this place was uniquely beautiful, and my favourite sight from the weekend!

As always I advise to get here as soon as possible, we left it until late morning which meant it was fairly crowded.

It's easy to get a train from Lisbon to Sintra, and it's only a short walk from the station to Quinta da Regaleira.

So, what exactly is Quinta da Regaleira? It's a huge gothic style residence, which includes a 5 floor house and huge grounds with various architecture. The grounds of the property are the best parts to explore! You'll find small caves, lakes, towers, fountains, grottoes and the Initiation Well. The Initiation Well is a giant well you can walk down into underground passages and is one of the most popular sights here.

It's great fun exploring all the nooks and crannies of the grounds, just be careful when walking on stepping stones across the shallow lake. It's easy to slip, and I witnessed a lady fall in. Thankfully it wasn't too deep so she was able to get out, but she looked quite embarrassed and was very wet.

We didn't get to see everything here due to the shear size of the place and also getting lost. It's quite easy to get lost on the grounds here, even with a map.



Pena Palace

Another stunning building to explore in Sintra. The palace consists of a mix of vividly painted terraces and mythological statues.

On a clear day it can be seen from Lisbon. Although I'm afraid I'm not quite sure where the best viewpoint is in Lisbon for this.

It's a small hike up the the palace itself, and there are some lovely views of Sintra once t the top. Depending on the route you take up and down, there is quite a bit to see along the trails too.



Pastel de Nata

I'm not usually one for cakes, and I've ever been a fan of custard tarts, but these sweet treats are delicious! You'll find these sold in various bakeries around the city so you shouldn't have any trouble finding them. They are a type of custard tart with a sprinkling of cinnamon. The custard itself is made from cream, egg yolks, sugar, flour, and lemon zest. Maybe it's the lemon zest and cinnamon that gives it such a special flavour.

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